Using hummus to try and bridge the divide between Israelis and Palestinians

Design student Liora Yuklea taps into food culture to bring together neighbours at war.

From the Series

Hummbowl is a set of storytelling tableware created by School of Visual Arts student Liora Yuklea. Born, raised, and educated in Israel, Yuklea is no stranger to conflict, which is why she focusses on how to use her design skills as tools for creating change in the world.

With Hummbowl, Yuklea seeks to bridge the decade-long divide between Israelis and Palestinians with hummus – a food that is shared by both cultures. She explains that hummus has become a national dish in Israel and Palestine, and the “wiping” technique, which people in both regions use to eat the dish, is also the same.

The hummus is served in a dipping bowl and is scooped up with a piece of pita bread – the hummus that remains at the bottom creates a pattern, which indicates a person’s unique wiping or dipping style.

Yuklea uses this as a common thread between the divided neighbours by preserving individual’s wiping style and narrative in each bowl she creates. First, the designer sits with a participant over a bowl of hummus to get to know his or her story. Then she makes a mould of the participant’s bowl and dip-print and casts new ceramic bowls out of it. 

“The bowl is then assigned a unique logo and code, which when scanned through the augmented reality app Blippar, reveals the story on the user’s mobile phone,” explains Yuklea. Every bowl is submitted into the cycle of distribution where an Israeli participant will receive the individual dip-print and story of a Palestinian participant and vice-versa.

The exchange of the bowls is meant to create intimate connections between strangers. In Yuklea’s thesis paper, she writes that half the participants “said the experience made them reflect about the similarities and commonalities they share with people from the other side, with two of the users saying it made them feel really sad”. She adds that there were some participants who wished to make contact and continue communication with each other. 

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